Saturday, May 30, 2015

For priests: Saints who were falsely accused ...

I think there were many.

Yet just a few are singled out as patrons of those who are indeed falsely accused.  The first traditional, or 'designated' patron I'll mention is Dominic Savio, a boy saint.

As a young boy he was accused of doing something mischievous ...

Dominic is the patron saint of boys and of the falsely accused. 
This latter title was given to him due to the following incident. One time, two boys filled the school stove with snow and garbage during the cold winter months. When the teacher came back into the room, they falsely accused Dominic of doing the "dirty" deed. Although disciplined in front of the entire class, Dominic refused to tell on the two mischievous boys. When the truth was later revealed, Dominic was asked why he didn't confess to his innocence. He remarked that he was imitating Our Lord, Who remained silent during His persecutions and crucifixion. - Read more here.

I was falsely accused when I was a kid and didn't defend myself.  If only I had died right away after, I might be a saint today.  I was accused by insurance investigators of starting the house on fire - when the real cause was probably bad wiring - the guy told me I'd go to prison unless I admitted it.

In elementary school, a boy stole my essay and handed it in as his own - actually, we were supposed to read it out loud and the boy was ahead of me.  When the teacher called on me I pretended I didn't do my homework rather than betray him.  Now that was saintly, if I do say so myself - but I soon fell into sinful ways in adolescence. Oh!  Why couldn't I have died right then?  But I digress.

Detraction and calumny - sins of the accusers.

Perhaps one of the most famous saints falsely accused is St. Gerard Majella.  A wayward wench, a convent reject, accused the Saint of getting her pregnant - which is why he's the patron of pregnant women.  I know!  Who came up with such patronage appointments?  Anyway - he didn't defend himself and his accuser eventually recanted and he became a saint.  Yep.

St. Roch was falsely accused 
of being a spy and imprisoned.

Then there is the great Margaret of Cortona - she was falsely accused all of her life - holy gossips always claimed she was guilty of something.  She gives me hope.  False accusations have followed me all of my life.  People will even claim I'm lying about that.  Because I've led such a wicked life - I'll accept it.

That said, we all know the stories of these 'designated' patrons.  Although it seems we can only view them from afar.  Their reputations have been enriched, polychromed with the glorious embellishments of heroic virtue, sanctified by extraordinary graces of bilocation, visions, prophecies, and ecstatic states of prayer.  Even though it is stuff like that which makes it seem worth it to go through when the test comes our way, we can still become even more discouraged precisely because those extraordinary graces appear to be unreachable for ourselves.

There has to be someone less idealized.

Yet there has to be someone - a saint, a blessed, a servant of God who is more real, closer to our own time - someone whose reputation was tarnished, someone who was falsely accused but not yet 'whitewashed' by the hagiographers?  

And there is... these ought to be the new patrons...

A perfect example - maybe even a prophetic one at that, is Blessed Paul VI - or Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, former Cardinal Archbishop of Milan.  He was accused of being gay, and the story is continuously brought up - though he was falsely accused, I recall the Holy Father speaking of the vicious attack publicly, as the following excerpt from Vanity Fair magazine makes note of:
The Catholic priesthood’s contemporary gay cultural memory begins in the middle of the last century. When Paul VI assumed the throne, in 1963, by one account he took his papal name not from any predecessor but from a former lover, a film actor. That at least was the contention of the provocative gay French writer Roger Peyrefitte, whose 1976 allegations about Paul VI caused such a stir that Paul took to the balcony of St. Peter’s to denounce the “horrible and slanderous” accusations. - VF

Even today Paul VI is maligned and misunderstood - his papacy, his sanctity, all questioned - especially by the holy ones ... therefor he gets my vote for the most excellent patron of the falsely accused.

An authentic mystic-wonder-worker may help too.

Then of course, the runner up would have to be St. Pio of Pietrelcina.  He was falsely accused of everything - and locked away in his convent for years - until Paul VI came along.
In the summer of 1960, the Holy Office of the Vatican dispatched an apostolic visitor to investigate Padre Pio... 
...anxiety about Padre Pio stemmed from a set of audiotapes surreptitiously recorded in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo that purported to document improper relations between Pio and a group of lay sisters, who formed a kind of protective guard around him. Keepers of the Padre Pio cult, they controlled access to the future saint, handled money coming in for the hospital, and appeared to have free run of the monastery at all hours. 
The apostolic visitor, Monsignor Carlo Maccari, left San Giovanni unimpressed by the person of Padre Pio and horrified by the cult that surrounded him, which he thought, according to his report, smacked of “idolatry and perhaps even heresy…religious conceptions that oscillate between superstition and magic.” -Source
For a time it looked like Padre Pio would live out his remaining years being treated as a miscreant.  But Paul VI changed things around rapidly. The Pope was not averse to St Pio. As Cardinal of Milan, Paul VI had sent a request for prayers to Padre Pio in 1959. In 1964, Pope Paul intervened with the CDF and ordered that Padre Pio be allowed to practise his ministry “in complete freedom” and that he was not to be confined “like a criminal”. - Source
Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him...
Two men, with two different reputations, representing two different 'ideologies' within Roman Catholicism - both falsely accused - neither receiving a great deal of support, both suffering the effects of false accusation in darkness and sorrow - perhaps near dejection.

These two saints Paul and Pio, seem to me to be the saints - the patrons for the falsely accused in our day.  We might implore them to come to the aid of those marginalized and suspended, although they share the lot of the saints in light - that light is darkness to the soul of the priest who finds himself alone ... outside the gate by a leave of absence as it were, sharing the shame of Christ.  The joy is unfelt - the peace certain - but the suffering is without consolation.

Please pray for priests who are falsely accused.  Pray for all priests.

Yes, I hear the whisperings of many: "Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!" All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. "Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him." - Jeremiah 20:10

Friday, May 29, 2015

Here's one.

“Modern man is staggering and losing his balance because he is being pelted with little pieces of alleged fact which are native to Blogs; and, if they turn out not to be facts, that is still more native to Blogs.” – G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 4/7/23

H/T The Anchoress

Bonus Trivia:  Chesterton's wife's maiden name was Blog.  Not kidding!

Beer farts!  Terribly unpleasant old man!  Quite repulsive.

Badger alert!

I'm worried about the Badger.

He seems to be missing.  He hasn't posted in 7 days.

Catholic men are arming themselves for battle...*

I actually knew that...

Behind the headlines and beneath the radar, a grassroots movement is growing among Catholic men in the United States. 

But much of the talk within the Catholic men’s ministry is militant. 

Some might see a danger in a new Catholic male militancy. Are these guys all gun-toting conservatives? Are they wild warriors for Jesus or old-fashioned male chauvinists?

The new Catholic men’s movement taps into a few key elements that makes men what they are. It connects with a guy’s innocent need to join a gang, a team, a regiment, a fraternity, or a club. It also connects with a man’s need to be on a mission from God.

Are they meathead jocks trying to flex spiritual muscle by engaging in “spiritual warfare”?

Such labels are laughable. I’ve spoken at men’s conferences, helped organize our own parish men’s group, joined the Knights of Columbus, and learned about the new apostolates.

Finally, the Catholic men’s movement connects with a deeper sense in our society that men and boys are neglected and underserved. Men have needs, too, and those needs are being met as the Catholic men’s movement continues to expand across America. -Fr. Longenecker

*Excerpts from another excellent essay written by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. Read the entire article here.

No more bullshit - man up!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

This is weird.

Benedict was handed a volume containing the visions of false seer Conchiglia.

False 'seer' gets a photo op with Pope Benedict and Ganswein.
Ratzinger was handed a volume containing the visions of false seer Conchiglia, who deifies the Virgin Mary, considers Pope Francis a “vicar of the Anti-Christ”, defines the Vatican as a den of deadly sins and claims that we are ruled by aliens. Mgr. Gänswein denied there being any support for the so-called seer or the content of the book. “Had Benedict XVI known what it was about he would never have agreed to the meeting” - Andrea Tornielli
I think people do this stuff all of the time.  They get a photo with the pope and promote their cause, giving the impression of papal approval.

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, 
and lead captive silly women laden with sins...

The Dangers of the Last Days.

But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days.

People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them.

For some of these slip into homes and make captives of women weighed down by sins, led by various desires, always trying to learn but never able to reach a knowledge of the truth.  

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so they also oppose the truth—people of depraved mind, unqualified in the faith.  But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be plain to all, as it was with those two. - 2 Timothy 3

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Schocken-awe... The idea that something is wrong - I just can't Schockenhoff* ...

Shake it off.  (What?*)
Father Schockenhoff 
Among the specialists present was Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, a moral theologian. Faithful German Catholics are particularly disturbed about the rise to prominence of Father Schockenhoff, who is understood to be the “mastermind” behind much of the challenge to settled Church teachings among the German episcopate and, by implication, at the synod on the family itself.
A prominent critic of Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth), as well as a strong supporter of homosexual clergy and those pushing for reform in the area of sexual ethics, Father Schockenhoff is known to be the leading adviser of the German bishops in the run-up to the synod.
In 2010, he gave an interview in which he praised the permanence and solidarity shown in some same-sex relationships as “ethically valuable.” He urged that any assessment of homosexual acts “must take a back seat” on the grounds that the faithful are becoming “increasingly distant from the Church’s sexual morality,” which appears “unrealistic and hostile to them.” The Pope and the bishops should “take this seriously and not dismiss it as laxity,” he said.
Father Schockenhoff has also gone on record saying that moral theology must be “liberated from the natural law” and that conscience should be based on the “life experience of the faithful.”
He has also insisted that the indissolubility of marriage is “not seriously called into question” by admitting remarried divorcees to holy Communion, writing a book to push his thesis in 2011 entitled "Opportunities for reconciliation?: The Church and the divorced and remarried". He has further proposed that the term the “official Church” should be done away with because of a growing gap between the institutional Church and the Church of the faithful. - NCReporter

So.  This development of doctrine - it didn't just happen over night.  It's not new.  It's been unofficial 'teaching' in the Church for decades.  Yes it has.  It's been the pastoral approach, more or less.  At least in progressive Catholic circles.  And of course, many 'G'ay Catholics agree that "moral theology must be 'liberated from the natural law' and that conscience should be based on the 'life experience of the faithful.'”

*Eat your heart out Larry.

Ach du liebe!

Denigrating popular piety.

Another reason why people left the Church.

Years ago a friend told me a story of a novice at the Benedictine Abbey of St. John's in Minnesota who knelt to pray before an ancient crucifix in the cloister.  One of the monks came by and told him, "Get up - we don't do pious here."  Meaning they were above traditional expressions of devotion, perhaps - or - simply testing the novice's humility?

When I was a novice in another monastery, the novice master was concerned that my devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was too sensible, too superficial, too rooted in private revelation ... too pious.

I thought of this after reviewing the headlines at Spirit Daily - a site frequently criticized for the same thing.  The bold headline pointed to the "Superior attitude" that dismisses the miraculous traced in part to a straying from ...

I'll fill in the blanks with my own take on that one.

Popular piety and devotion has been more or less discredited and called out for being superficial and emotional since Vatican II.  Yet before the Council churches in major metropolitan areas were packed with the faithful attending weekly novena services, rosary devotions, 40 Hours Devotion, and throughout the day people dropped in to make a visit, light a candle, do the Stations, and so on.  Afterwards, theology, ecclesiology, Biblical studies all tried to fill the spiritual void left by the abandonment of such devotions. Not that there is anything wrong with that... per se.

Now days, when we talk about how the Church may have failed the faithful, many blame the Novus Ordo - how the Mass changed.  The Mass is fine - I think it was the novelties introduced - to supply for the lack of piety and authentic spirituality, which zapped the sacred character out of it.  When I returned to the sacraments in 1972, two major churches in St. Paul celebrated the ordinary form Mass, in Latin and English, ad orientem, fully vested, reverently, and so on.  They never turned the altar around, thus the Mass seemed unchanged to me.  All I'm saying is that I don't think changing the Mass was the problem - downgrading the sacred, the ordinary expression of piety; in other words, eliminating the traditional devotional element of worship, which in some places vanished altogether as novel add-ons were gradually introduced, that's the problem.

Thus a new wave iconoclasm intellectualized, socialized/secularized, religious communities - including parishes.

To fill the spiritual gap - various movements arose, such as the Blue Army, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, and the Charismatic Renewal, to name just two.  Nothing wrong with that either.  Although progressives and academics dismissed such groups as superficial and shallow - reserved for the desperate, under-educated, badly catechized.  The void left by the abandonment of devotion was filled by the extraordinary gifts and experiences associated with the devotional movements - which also may explain, in part, the attraction to places of apparitions and private revelations today.

As people continued to fall away, like sheep without a shepherd, spiritual hunger led them outside the Church - wandering into New Age spirituality, Wicca, Eastern mystics, the occult; Theosophy - which is pretty much Gnosticism or neo-paganism - and the new religion of secularists.  Or, more properly, for the spiritual but not religious.

Nevertheless, religious practice is unsustainable without devotion - the gift of piety.  Hence, ordinary people abandon religion all together.
[T]he gift of piety perfects the virtue of justice, enabling the individual to fulfill his obligations to God and neighbor, and to do so willingly and joyfully. With piety, the person is not only motivated by the requirements of strict justice but also by the loving relationship he shares with his neighbor. Simply, a person wants to do what is right in the eyes of God. - The Gift of Piety
Crowds in procession for Novena to St. Anne
San Francisco, 1933.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The rupture between sexuality and marriage.

Garden of Earthly Delights - Bosch

Unexpectedly ...

I found an excerpt from Vittorio Messori's book The Ratzinger Report on Spiritual Friendship blog, part of an extended discussion on the relationship between same sex marriage and contraception as viewed through the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger and Rowan Williams.  I've chosen to emphasize the Ratzinger Report: 

“The issue is the rupture between sexuality and marriage. Separated from motherhood, sex has remained without a locus and has lost its point of reference: it is a kind of drifting mine, a problem and at the same time an omnipresent power.”
After this first rupture he sees another, as a consequence: “After the separation between sexuality and motherhood was effected, sexuality was also separated from procreation. The movement, however, ended up going in an opposite direction: procreation without sexuality. Out of this follow the increasingly shocking medical-technical experiments so prevalent in our day where, precisely, procreation is independent of sexuality. Biological manipulation is striving to uncouple man from nature (the very existence of which is being disputed). There is an attempt to transform man, to manipulate him as one does every other ‘thing': he is nothing but a product planned according to one’s pleasure.
If I am not mistaken, I observe, our cultures are the first in history in which such ruptures have come to pass.
“Yes, and at the end of this march to shatter fundamental, natural linkages (and not, as is said, only those that are cultural), there are unimaginable consequences which, however, derive from the very logic that lies at the base of a venture of this kind.”
In his view we will atone already in our day for “the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to motherhood and to procreation. It logically follows from this that every form of sexuality is equivalent and therefore of equal worth.” “It is certainly not a matter,” he specifies, “of establishing or recommending a retrograde moralism, but one of lucidly drawing the consequences from the premises: it is, in fact, logical that pleasure, the libido of the individual, become the only possible point of reference of sex. No longer having an objective reason to justify it, sex seeks the subjective reason in the gratification of desire, in the most ‘satisfying’ answer for the individual, to the instincts no longer subject to rational restraints. Everyone is free to give his personal libido the content considered suitable for himself.”
He continues: “Hence, it naturally follows that all forms of sexual gratification are transformed into the ‘rights’ of the individual. Thus to cite an especially current example, homosexuality becomes an inalienable right. (Given the aforementioned premises, how can one deny it?) On the contrary, its full recognition appears to be an aspect of human liberation.”
There are, however, other consequences of “this uprooting of the human person in the depth of his nature.” He elaborates: “Fecundity separated from marriage based on a life-long fidelity turns from being a blessing (as it was understood in every culture) into its opposite: that is to say a threat to the free development of the ‘individual’s right to happiness’. Thus abortion, institutionalized, free and socially guaranteed, becomes another ‘right’, another form of ‘liberation’.” - The Ratzinger Report

Contraception, the original sin of the sexual revolution.

Before 1960 there was no magic pill to regulate birth.  Contraception was clumsy.  The contraceptive mentality was there, the convenience wasn't.  Then the pill came along.  Clinical abortion is a consequence of failed contraception.  Sexual liberty, and therefore 'equality' is the consequence of the cultural revolution; “the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to motherhood and to procreation. It logically follows from this that every form of sexuality is equivalent and therefore of equal worth.”

I'm not sure why that is so difficult to understand, or why or how Church leaders in Ireland can be so surprised that same-sex marriage was so easily approved by so many.  In the west, dissenting theologians and clergy have been free to present the teaching on artificial contraception as a matter of personal conscience, ignoring and criticizing Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, which condemned artificial contraception as well as foretelling what some of the consequences would result.
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. - HV 17

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I think I should write some serious stuff.

If I write for readers the writing isn't worth anything.  It's a put on.

That's why most blogs are boring.  To me at least.

I've been reading Joseph Sciambra.

Some people think he's nuts - I don't.

He's lived a very 'gay' life - his experience was extreme.  He grew up in San Francisco - he chronicles his experience.  His spiritual experiences which led him to conversion may or may not be real to those who read them or read about them.  They may be metaphorical - they may be authentic.  Intense spiritual experiences are not uncommon for converts/penitents from extreme backgrounds.

Some writers online like to discount what Joe has to say, Melinda Selmys even suggested that maybe he wasn't really ever gay, while others say his experience is atypical for gay men.  They write him off and discredit him.  That's pretty hypocritical.  They deny the seamy, creepy side to homosexuality, not to mention the integrity of a man who left the gay scene behind.  There seems to be a sense of denial which underlies the Spiritual Friendship crowd, they offer an 'overly benign interpretation to the homosexual condition itself... going so far as to call it neutral, or even good.'

Sciambra doesn't do that - and that's why people don't like him.  He's probably the most honest writer online.

I like what he wrote recently - it really hits you right between the eyes.  I was thinking about it over night.  I think it maybe explains why gay marriage is so acceptable, and why Irish Catholics were led into apostasy.
[F]ar too many homosexuals trapped in the life have a plethora of straight friends and family members who give them unconditional love, never judge them, or question their initial entrance into the lifestyle; instead, they cooperate in a strange practice of “coming-out;” gushing and heralding loudly the gay person’s boundless bravery. 
After the hugs and kisses - none of those well-wishers follow that soul into the darkness of sexual perversity that awaits them; at 18, on my first day in the Castro, I was set upon by numerous men promising to “make a man out of me;” a new buddy my age, a rather naive Mid-Westerner, after a few months in San Francisco, was HIV+ and died the following year; in the 1990s, I only wore black - as a funeral seemed a daily occurrence; since then, little has changed - while gay men account for about only 2% of the US population, they make up well over half of all HIV infections; young gay men are most affected, with 93% of all infections in the age group 13-19 years resulting from homosexual sex. 
Yet, despite the gravity of the present, and the inherent dangers of the future, many with close friends and family members who are gay - choose to believe the lie, or to stay quiet. For the most part, they remain blissfully ignorant as they fear the truth; or, they deny the truth in order to remain within the circle of friendship and dysfunction. In silence and capitulation, the ties with the homosexual person are preserved, and the dysfunctional family continues to gather and celebrate various holidays and special occasions while the façade of normality perpetuates and bolsters the continuing entrapment within homosexuality. For, by collaborating and remaining dreamily complicit, you are making it extremely easy for the homosexual to stay in the lifestyle; in effect, you are contributing to the darkness; as the Light of Christ remains hidden from view. - Read more here.

I pray for Joseph Sciambra, that he perseveres and grows in holiness, that he stays honest and becomes the saint God wills him to be. 


Years ago I was shopping at Lunds - a grocery store in Minneapolis - and I was picking out cat food.  There was an elderly gentleman standing nearby muttering, "All they do is eat and sleep."  I looked at him quizzically, and he said, "Cats."

He reminded me of George Burns without his signature cigar, but I didn't know how to respond to him.  I was in my 20's and not well socialized with old people.  I wasn't sure if he was joking or being critical.  After he walked away I realized he was being funny.  I ran into him later with his wife, who was shopping and discussing what to buy.  The man looked at me and gave me an exasperated look, nodding towards the wife.  Then I got it and I laughed and she said to me smiling - "Don't pay any attention to him."

I loved that guy.  I loved his deadpan humor, his George Burns style comedy act with his Gracie Allen wife.  I always wish I would have been less self-conscious/self-absorbed, less concerned about being cool in the yuppie-class grocery store near Lake Calhoun, and free to engage the old guy.  He was so funny.

Anyway.  I bring that up because it's kind of my humor as well.  Just saying random stuff.  No ill will intended.  Just dumb stuff.  I crack myself up, though very few really find my humor funny.  You see, I sort of have a sitcom going on in my head.

That said, I don't think that many people online are all that funny.

One guy I really like is Kevin O'Brien - he's funny and talented.  Unfortunately, he's not blogging anymore.  Fr. Z is funny too - I think a lot of people take him way too seriously though - all of the time - but sometimes he is really funny.

I like dumb humor the best.  I don't take serious very well.  Which is why I sabotage my friends' com boxes every once in a while.  Then the wife in my head says, "Don't pay any attention to him."

When most people online try to be funny, they're not.

Including me, obviously.